Math has always been a staple of education. Algorithms, equations, homework, test after test. Many students must ask themselves: Why do we need math?
Katherine Johnson (1918-2020), a former NASA mathematician who calculated and analyzed flight paths for many missions, once said: “Some things will drop out of the public eye and go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.”
This may be one of the reasons why our country has listed math and its applications as a major national project during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, reported China Daily.
“The policy and financial support for the field of mathematics and applied mathematics will be greatly improved between 2021 and 2025 compared with the past five years – it’s unprecedented,” said Yuan Yaxiang, a mathematician and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
He also stressed that mathematical research matters because it can help overcome current technology bottlenecks.
According to Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang, basic scientific research, including mathematics, will have a larger focus during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, with funding expected to reach over 8 percent of all research and development (R&D) expenditure. China will also formulate a 10-year action plan for basic research.
The math project is expected to receive 1.5 billion yuan in funding, according to Yuan. The funding will be used to build new institutions for scientific research and support the current ones with new experimental equipment. At present, China has established 13 applied mathematics centers in Beijing, Shanghai and other regions, according to Xinhua.
More training for young mathematicians has also been urged.
This year, Tsinghua University carried out a leading talent training program in math. It recruits hundreds of outstanding middle and senior high school students from across the country to cultivate leading talents in mathematics and related fields.
The “strengthening basic disciplines plan”, which was launched in 2020 at 36 top universities, also focuses on students with special talents in basic disciplines, including math.
According to the German newspaper Die Welt, China leads the way as far as those with an aptitude for math. Of all those born in China between 2005 and 2009, 24 million have exhibited a talent for math. The number is 1.8 million and 940,000 in Japan and South Korea, respectively. That’s why many international companies like Apple have set their research center in China.